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Greens to double Perth tree canopy by 2040

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 16 May 2016

Perth's tree canopy will double across the city by 2040 with every resident living within five minutes of a greenway under the Greens Urban Forest plan announced today.

Originally covered by about 284,000 hectares of native vegetation, it is estimated 75 per cent of Perth's original bushland and 80 per cent of our original wetlands have been lost.

The plan details the establishment of an Aboriginal Stewardship committee to preserve and advance cultural knowledge and practice, funding for scientific mapping drawing on the latest biodiversity and climate data and addressing the most significant and urgent threats to our urban bushland from development.

The strategy allocates $7.6million in State funding per year to the Perth Urban Forest Plan, and $29 million in Commonwealth funding as part of our new Green Cities Federal policy.

Greens cities spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said green spaces act as lungs for the cities, nurturing our physical and mental health, and help to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

"This project was born of a combination of sorrow and determination. Sorrow that across our city, community groups and volunteers are stretched to the limit defending local urban bushland treasures that shrink year by year. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes the police and bulldozers move in to erase yet another place forever," he said.

"The impact of this uncontrolled clearing is starting to show. Not only are we losing the aesthetic and recreational benefits of living near green space, but our city is getting hotter. There can be as much as 6 degrees difference across Perth's suburbs, depending on their canopy cover.

"Green suburbs such as Subiaco and Wembley Downs were found to be 4-6 degrees cooler than treeless suburbs such as Piara Waters, Clarkson or Butler on any given day. This is due to the Urban Heat Island effect, where a lack of trees and predominance of hard, dark surfaces heats up the city streets and buildings."

Noongar elder Dr. Noel Nannup, who has advised on the plan, emphasised the cultural underpinnings of conservation work.

"The establishment of cultural trails offers cultural restoration, individual and community healing and the creation of a new Australian culture that recognizes, respects and applies the best elements of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal culture in Australia," he said.

This plan lays out a clear strategy and proposes dedicated funding to transform our city and provide the missing link in our infrastructure and planning systems: a network of protected bushland, greenways, parklands and green street-scapes that everyone can access and enjoy.

 

Fact Box:

  • 75% of Perth's original bushland and 80% of our original wetlands have been lost.
  • 2015 was the hottest year on record. Global Warming is making our city hotter.
  • Heatwaves kill more Australians than all other natural disasters (bushfires, cyclones etc) and heat related deaths are expected to double in Perth by 2050.
  • Trees can cool a city street by 4-6 degrees celcius, making them a vital asset in the fight against climate change and heat related deaths.
  • A university study found that a single tree is worth up to $193,250 in ecosystem services such as air filtration, stormwater management, Co2 reductions and property value increases.

The 5 parts of our Perth Urban Forest Plan

 

1. Building knowledge and capacity     

TARGET:

ACTIONS

  • The taskforce and research program will involve Aboriginal elders, botanists, ecologists and policy makers to establish strategies for bushland preservation, revegetation and ongoing natural resource management. This program will also work across the Departments of Transport, Planning, Environment and Indigenous Affairs to ensure interdepartmental collaboration. ($2m p/a)
  • The taskforce will support the development of state and local council Urban Forest Plans. ($200,000 p/a)
  • The taskforce will use the i-tree tool[1] or equivalent to measure and document the monetary, health and services value of our urban forest and green infrastructure. New York successfully used the i-tree tool to evaluate that for every dollar spent on trees the city receives a return of $5.60. ($200,000 p/a)
  • An interactive website, mapping tool will be developed. ($100,000 p/a)

 

2. Protect what remains                       

TARGET: Protect 90% remaining urban bushland, significant trees and cultural sites.

ACTIONS

  • Give statutory protection to Bush Forever sites that was promised by the government in 2000 as well as increasing funding for adequate management of these sites ($800,000 p/a)
  • Immediately reject the Barnett Government's proposed Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill 2014 and seek to abolish the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 in favour of contemporary legislation which would aim to:

-          provide higher levels of protection to Aboriginal heritage listed sites[2];

-          Expand the definition of heritage listed and heritage protected to include sites that are directly related to aspects of song cycles and dreaming lines, consistent with how Aboriginal people value places;

  • Introduce an Acquisition Fund to purchase natural areas of high conservation value in urban areas. The Metropolitan Region Improvement Tax (1959) could be used to generate the revenue for this. ($20m)
  • End offsets as a legitimate replacement for lost remnant bushland. For example, bushland with hundred year old trees cannot be adequately replaced by the equivalent area of new saplings nor can the value of complex bushland ecosystems be adequately replaced by same-species tree plantations.
  • Strengthen 'Parks & Recreation' zoning so that they can't be reneged on when development is proposed to proceed. Currently, that zoning offers no protection.
  • Work with developers on the importance of biodiversity and urban forest protection and develop an Industry Code that ensures they will not develop on Bush Forever sites.
  • Set up a 'Significant Tree Register' to ensure protection of large and diverse species of trees at the street level. In conjunction to this the Perth Planning and Development Act 2005 will be amended so that planning approval will be required to significantly prune, or cut down a tree placed on the register. The ACT has successfully protected significant street trees with a similar strategy.
  • Introduce a federal moratorium on clearing of urban bushland until the Strategic Assessment is completed and implemented. ($200,000)
  • Add an Urban National Park category to our National Reserve System, affording it maximum protection and status possible in Australian law.

 

3. Rebuild the links

TARGET: Rebuild 200ha/yr of green corridors and ecological linkages between existing natural habitats and parks to a total of 2600  hectares of new corridors by 2029.

ACTIONS

  • Use the Natural Resource Management mapping as the template to undertake this city-scale green retrofitting strategy of rebuilding 200ha/yr of green corridors. This metropolitan-scale planting schedule will be driven by the Urban Forest research program committee with strong collaboration with local governments. ($1.5m p/a)
  • Provide legal protection and formal recognition of ecological linkages in our planning system including creating a new Greenways Zone in the MRS that has permanent, statutory protection and funding the recommendations made by the Auditor General in his 2009 Report Rich and Rare: Conservation of Threatened Species.
  • Plan, fund and deliver high quality walking and bike trails that are integrated into this Greenway network, connecting and providing easy access to our most precious parks, bushland and waterways across the metropolitan area. (This is already funded in Greens' BikeVision Plan)
  • Introduce a special funding component for coastal and river zones to protect and restore sand dunes and coastal shrub lands. ($600,000 p/a)

 

4. Green our streets and public spaces

TARGET: Double Perth's tree canopy by 2040

ACTIONS

  • Conduct ongoing maintenance - including tree audits every three years to measure canopy cover and tree health (1m p/a)
  • Repeat tree audits every 3 years to measure ongoing canopy cover and tree health.
  • Invest in new street plantings to link the greenways together and increase biodiversity in every suburb. ($700,000 p/a)
  • Along with new plantings, mandating biodiversity (not more than 40% for a family, 30% for a genus, and 10% for a species) and ongoing maintenance of the health of city trees is an important part of ensuring this increase in canopy cover is achieved.
  • Educate and empower private landowners to plant and care for suitable trees and native plants on their property. (The private realm consists of approximately 70% of the Perth metropolitan area and can therefore contribute significantly to the urban forest.)
  • Introduce a green roof and walls scheme. Using the Growing Green Guide for Melbourne as a guide, our aim is for one in ten existing and new buildings to have a green roof, wall or façade installed by 2029. A similar policy has been introduced in France where, if passed into law, all new commercial buildings will be required to have a green roof or rooftop solar panels installed. ($1.2m p/a)
  • Introduce a city-wide strategy to replace hard surfaces like bitumen and concrete with porous surfaces such as porous asphalt, turf, garden beds and rain gardens to reduce heat retention, reduce runoff, encourage soil moisture retention and ultimately improve the health of our urban forest. This has been done in Germany with great success.[3]

 

5.  Community and culture will be at the heart of the Perth Urban Forest Plan.

TARGET: Provide multiple opportunities for the community and citizens to meaningfully engage with the development of Perth's Urban Forest, particularly at the household and street scale.

TARGET: Honour and celebrate Nyoongar Culture at all stages of developing the Urban Forest Plan.

ACTIONS

  • Include, as part of the Urban Forest research program, a citizen volunteer arm and secondary education program to help with on-the-ground tree audits every 2 years, to ensure the health of the urban forest is maintained (as well as assisting in measuring canopy cover, diversity and distribution). This strategy has been successfully implemented in New York City.
  • Introduce a Community Grants scheme to enable Local Council to work with communities when making decisions about the Urban Forest and Green Infrastructure in their area. This includes funding for deliberative democracy workshops and neighbourhood scale projects such as walking paths, amphitheatres and Aboriginal interpretive centres. ($1.5m p/a)
  • Introduce a household funding package to subsidize biodiversity plantings in front verges and backyards to link in to the local greenway (made available to local Landcare groups, local councils and native nurseries). ($5m p/a)
  • Engage local Aboriginal elders in the Urban Forest research program - responsible for the planning and mapping of the Urban Forest Plan. ($800,000 p/a)
  • Engage local Aboriginal elders and businesses to develop the Cultural Trails identified in the Urban Forest Plan and to deliver cultural, educational and eco-tourism programs along these Trails including:

-         Interpretive signage and artworks installed at key sites explaining the significance of the sites to Noongar culture (such as those installed on the Whatdjuk Trail Network in the western Suburbs of Perth)[4];

-        Aboriginal 'tour guides' located strategically throughout the city to provide cultural and ecological interpretation and personalized experiences;

-        A program of public performances of traditional songs, dances and storytelling;

-        Opportunities for the Aboriginal community to engage in private ceremonies at culturally significant times of the year.

($800,000 p/a)

How The Urban Forest Plan Will Be Funded

The Greens propose to allocate $7.6million in State funding per year to fund the Perth Urban Forest Plan, and $29 million in Commonwealth funding as part of our Green Cities Federal policy.

 

PERTH URBAN FOREST PLAN                                                                                                                                                                      

STATE

FEDERAL

1.  Building knowledge and capacity

TARGET: Establish a world class Urban Forest research program that helps to plan, measure and maintain Perth's Urban Forest.

  • Establish Urban Forest Taskforce
  • Support development of state and local council Urban Forest plans
  • Map, measure and document monetary value of our urban forest and green infrastructure
  • Create interactive website mapping tool

$2m p/a

$200,000 p/a

$200,000 p/a

 

 

$100,000 p/a

2. Protect what remains

TARGET: Protect 90% remaining urban bushland, significant trees and cultural sites.

 

  • Give statutory protection and adequate management funding to Bush Forever sites
  • Reject the proposed Aboriginal Heritage Act Amendment Bill 2014 and update the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972
  • New Acquisition Fund
  • End offsets
  • Strengthen 'Parks & Recreation' zoning
  • Work with developers to establish Industry Code
  • Set up 'Significant Tree Register'
  • Introduce federal moratorium on clearing urban bushland
  • Add Urban National Park category to National Reserve System

$800,000 p/a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$20m p/a

 

 

 

 

$200,000 p/a

3. Rebuild the links

TARGET: Rebuild 200ha/yr of green corridors and ecological linkages between existing natural habitats and parks to a total of 2600  ha of new corridors by 2029.

 

  • Regrow 200ha/yr of green corridors between areas of existing natural habitats and parks, stitching these locations together in our city
  • Give legal protection and greater recognition of ecological linkages in our planning system.
  • Plan, fund and deliver high quality walking and bicycling trails that are integrated into this Greenway network
  • Introduce a special funding component for coastal and river zones to protect and restore sand dunes and coastal shrub lands.

$1.5m p/a

 

 

 

 

(budgeted for in Green's Bike Vision 2029)

$600,000 p/a

 

4. Green our streets and public spaces

TARGET: Double Perth's tree canopy by 2040

  • Ongoing maintenance including tree audits every 3 years
  • New street plantings with the aim to double Perth's tree canopy by 2040
  • Increase the diversity and improve ongoing maintenance of our urban forest
  • Educate private landowners
  • Introduce a green roof and walls scheme
  • Implement a city-wide strategy to replace hard surfaces (bitumen & concrete) with porous surfaces

 

$700,000 p/a

 

 

 

 

$1.2m p/a

 

$1m p/a

 

 

 

 

 

5.  Community and culture will be at the heart of the Perth Urban Forest Plan.

TARGET: Provide concrete opportunities for the community and citizens to engage and contribute.

TARGET: Honour and celebrate Nyoongar Culture at all stages of developing the Urban Forest Plan.

  • Include a citizen volunteer arm of the Urban Forest research program
  • Introduce a Community Grants scheme-supporting local government to engage and empower citizens in the Urban Forest planning and implementation
  • Introduce a household funding package to subsidize biodiversity plantings in backyards and verges
  • Engage an Aboriginal Stewardship Committee as part of the Urban Forest Research Program
  • Employ at least 10 urban rangers and tour/culture guides by 2029

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$800,000 p/a

 

$1.5m p/a

 

 

$5m p/a

 

$800,000 p/a

 

 

TOTAL

 

$7.6m p/a

$29m p/a


[1] i-tree is an online data-mapping tool that quantifies forest structure and the environmental services that trees provide that has been adopted by cities and local councils across the globe including London, Chicago and the City of Melbourne.

[2] It is estimated that DAA has reduced the number of heritage registrations from around 85% of nominated sites to only 6% in the last three years. Additionally at least 27 site have been delisted in the past year and so no longer qualify for any protection. Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/indigenous/sacred-sites...

[3]http://www.switchurbanwater.eu/outputs/pdfs/CEMS_PAP_Urban_stormwater_ma...

[4] http://whadjukwalkingtrails.org.au/

 

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